612-644-9781 info@crossfitslipstream.com

What Does it Mean to be an Athlete? One Athlete’s Journey

When I was 6 I knew that I was an athlete. I knew it in every fiber of my being because I played outside. To me, playing and moving around let me claim the title of “athlete”. Would you be willing to play with me? If yes, then you, too, were instantly an athlete.

At 8 years old I began playing in recreational YMCA basketball teams, and my definition of “athlete” shifted for the first time. It was clear to my coaches and the other adults around me that to be an athlete meant you had to be good. No, not just good, you had to be the best. I found myself practicing for hours because darn it, I wanted to be an athlete like Lisa Leslie.

Image result for lisa leslie

14 year old me began looking in the mirror and pin-pointing spots that just weren’t “athlete” enough. I knew by now that the real reason why my peers, especially my female friends, were athletes because they wanted to “look” like an athlete. Naturally that meant we began teaching each other how to eat as little as possible because that’s what amazing athletes apparently did to look the part. To be an athlete meant you had to be good at what you did on a diminishing amount of food. You had to be good and thin.

Related: Thank You Note to My Body

At 16 I realized that staying under 1200 calories a day or being a generally “good” player wasn’t enough; I needed to exercise as much as possible—regardless of if that exercise actually made me better at what I wanted to be able to do. I averaged 4 hours a day of exercise with nothing but a “low fat-cheese” quesadilla as my pre and post workout snack. Never mind that I had to pull myself out of games for fear of passing out. It was the quantity that mattered! The aches in my bones and joints were completely normal and a result of training, and no one really wanted her menstrual cycle anyway, right? Injuries were to be expected of a true athlete.

Related:3 Key Elements of a Successful Nutrition Plan

I met coach Chad at 17 (pictured below doing a handstand on dumbbells). She swooped in on her long board, a drumstick in one hand and CrossFit programming in the other. She got right up to the pull-up bar, did a muscle up, looked us in the eyes and said, “Alright girls, your turn.” She stopped male athletes in their tracks as they attempted to deadlift 200 pounds with rounded backs and instead showed them how to do it properly with that same 200-pound weight. She climbed fences because she felt like it and taught us how to do the same. She challenged us to move our bodies in new strange and challenging ways. Chad, in my 17-year old mind, could do it all and she did so while munching on some sort of snack or shake. When I thought of an athlete, I began seeing Chad.

“I was an athlete to Chad because I kept training and striving to better myself.”

When I was 18 I could still do very little of what Chad could, and yet she relentlessly referred to me as HER athlete. Even though I had no playing time as a player, and I couldn’t lift the heaviest or run the fastest, Chad always checked my progress. Had I improved my pull-ups? Did my back squat go up from 50lbs to 60lbs? Was I eating? If I wanted that PR, I needed days off to see my gains. Each improvement won her praise. It didn’t matter that I could only deadlift 90lbs and Monica 200lbs— I was an athlete to Chad because I kept training and striving to better myself. (Chad and me pictured below)

By the time I turned 22 I had finally forgotten how many calories were in a bag of chips. I was 30lbs heavier and while it caused me distress for the first few years of college, I attempted to focus on what my body could do. Did I just hit a 200lb deadlift? 18-year old Jasmine could never have dreamed of it! Each week I challenged myself to practice a new skill and slowly my body began changing of its own accord. I wanted to become a better, stronger, healthier feeling self. I began to become pretty sure that I could do all these things and still call myself an athlete.

At 23 I stared at CrossFit Slipstream’s advertisement for coaches. I felt that old panic arise. Surely I wasn’t athlete enough to be a CrossFit coach! I couldn’t do a muscle up, or a handstand, or a proper snatch. I was nowhere near as strong or muscular as all the CrossFit athletes or coaches I had seen. There were many hours others were training and I was not. Maybe I wasn’t an athlete after all? In the midst of my panic I realized that I needed someone outside of myself to tell me if I could really do this. I needed a coach. So naturally, I reached out to Chad.

To me, an athlete is someone who continually strives for progress—regardless of where they are starting out.”

I am now 24, and I have coached close to 300 hours. I still can’t do a muscle up, or a handstand, or a full snatch—but then again neither can many of my athletes. There are days when I run around screaming with my shirt off, celebrating my 100lb strict press PR while one of my athletes easily completes reps of 200lbs. There are days when I smack the ground in excitement as I see one of my athletes complete their first ever box jump after months or even years of step-ups. I’ve come to understand that there is no standard as to what it means to be or look like an athlete. To me, an athlete is someone who continually strives for progress—regardless of where they are starting out. An athlete treats their body with love and respect, which can even mean sometimes electing to take a day off. An athlete constantly checks to make sure they are working hard and consistently, but also making sure that they are not hurting themselves in the process.

While my journey as an athlete (and now as a coach) will continually change and grow, I can’t help but think that maybe 6-year old Jasmine possessed more wisdom then I could ever hope to achieve. Maybe that’s where coaches like Chad come in, to remind us that what it takes to call yourself an athlete is the willingness to simply go out and play. If you need help remembering to go out and play, feel free to reach out to me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

 

-Jasmine Gerritsen

Instructor/Coach

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

 

 

Biomechanic Basics – What You Need to Know!

Biomechanics is the study of how living structures are put together and how they act and interact with forces within and around them. It necessarily encompasses anatomy and physiology.  For humans, this means how you’re put together and the best movement sequence to accomplish a particular task.

The human body can be described as a bowling ball on top of a Slinky® balanced on an upside-down pyramid balanced on a rectangle.  These correspond to the head, neck, torso, and hips and legs, respectively.  Walking or running further complicates things by turning that rectangle into a triangle.  No wonder balancing is hard!

Related: Stop “Stretching”!  Do Mobility Work Instead

Our many joints, ranges of motion, and other attributes enable us to perform an infinite variety of movements and accomplish an infinite variety of tasks.  The thought of how to move properly in the face of such infinite possibilities can be overwhelming, but we can simplify this task with just two principles that should be adhered to whenever performing a physical task:

(1) Stabilize your spine.  The spine includes 24 movable joints.  When performing work, ideally we don’t want any one of those joints to move, because that creates the potential for injury and interferes with power transfer.  The safest and strongest position for the spine is neutral and braced.  Where the spine must move, it should move as little as possible and as well as possible.

Related: Breathing: So Simple Anyone Can Do It

(2) Move from your trunk to extremities – the human body generates force most efficiently when movement begins at the muscles attached to the hip or shoulder first, followed by the knee or elbow, and finally the ankle or wrist.   Movement should be a wave of contractions from closer to the body’s center to its outer limits.

These two principles can guide virtually any movement of the human body.  Even swimming follows these principles.

Contact me to learn to apply these principles to your movement, whatever it may be!

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com

MEMBER HIGHLIGHT – MEET MIKE!

Why did you decide to try CrossFit?
Two reasons. First, my friend kept posting pictures and videos of her CrossFit workouts on Instagram. Over the course of several months, I saw her body transform and it looked like she was having a blast. Watching her have such a positive experience is what first piqued my interest in CrossFit. At the same time, I was looking for a new gym to join but wanted to take my time and explore non-traditional options like CrossFit. More specifically I was looking for a place where I would be challenged in a new way. I began researching local CrossFit gyms and decided to try a free intro workout at Slipstream. After the workout, I decided to join Slipstream because I felt like John and Susan deeply cared for their members and provided expert level instruction and training.
How is having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?
The biggest aspect here is awareness. I am more aware of my body’s strengths, weaknesses, and also limitations. Having a coach skilled in proper movement has provided me with a wealth of customized information about my body that I’ve never had before. Now when I workout, I know the areas I need to improve. This has made me stronger and more mobile. 
How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
There are many ways that CrossFit has affected my life. Every time I leave Slipstream, I am in a good mood. The workouts are like a good mood drug. But the biggest effect has been discipline. Doing CrossFit has given me the opportunity to become more disciplined in several areas of my life (work, relationships, nutrition, sleep, etc.). 
What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
Gotta go with tire flips. There’s just something so primal about it. 
What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
I would suggest they talk to someone who is currently doing CrossFit. Ask them all the questions you have and address any concerns. After that, try a free intro workout and talk with the coaches and other members. Being a member of Slipstream has had such a positive influence on my life. It’s easily one of the better decisions I’ve made over the last several years.

Zero to Push-up Hero: Tips on how to get your first strict push-up

Push-ups can be incredibly frustrating! Some of us may be able to bench press, deadlift, or squat 1-2 times our body weight, but still struggle with creating that beautiful, hollow-looking push up. Add to this the challenge of performing this motion rep after rep and we have a recipe for frustration and self-doubt. As a coach, I find myself being approached, especially by female athletes, about how to up their push-up game. Oftentimes, these athletes have tremendous strength or amazing endurance but completing a push-up still eludes them.

While both men and women struggle with pushups, athletes who are biologically female may find themselves struggling longer than people who are biologically male. Women tend to have less muscle mass per pound, with less muscle mass being distributed on the upper body.  Testosterone levels also impact muscle development, with higher testosterone typically leading to larger muscle mass. This doesn’t mean that if you are female-bodied or have low testosterone that you can never get a push-up. Have you seen female gymnasts or rock climbers? They are some of the best athletes at body-weight training ever. All this means is that you need to train intelligently and practice body-weight drills a little more frequently in order to achieve top-heavy body-weight movements like the push-up or pull-up.

“Many of these drills (especially negatives and super-slow drills) also apply to pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, and bench press.”

Below are some basic tools you can use to up your push-up game. I have presented them to you in order of difficulty. However,  feel free to try them all to see where you’re at. Many of these drills (especially the negatives and the super-slow movements) also apply to pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, and bench press.

Related: Zero to Hero: Drills for Your First Pull-Up


ECCENTRICS/NEGATIVES (can be done on the floor, box, rig, or wall)

For this specific exercise we are only looking at the lowering phase of the push up. The goal of this movement is to build up all of the muscles that you will need to help lower yourself in a diagonal line.

“1-3 sets of 3-5 repetitions at 3-5 second descents will build your strength pretty quickly.”

Begin from the plank position by actively pushing against the ground and flexing your quads and abs (top picture below). You should have a slightly hollowed out upper back like mine. Your goal is to be able to keep the hollow position as you start lowering yourself to the ground. As you come to the bottom of the push up, you should be hitting the floor with your chest and thighs first. Your goal is to get your shoulders below your elbows with your forearms as vertical as possible (bottom picture). Whether you are doing this on the wall, a box, a barbell, or on the floor, try to lower as slowly as possible. I recommend working your way up to a 5 second descent. Once you make it to the bottom, relax on the ground and when you are ready, get yourself back to plank position. 1-3 Sets of 3-5 repetitions at 3-5 second descents will build your strength pretty quickly.

 

Top of the Push Up

Bottom of the Push Up

 


Hands off ground or Hand release pushups (these are done on the floor)

This drill focuses on the concentric or “up” phase of the push-up. Begin with your stomach, chest and thighs on the ground. Lift your hands off the ground so that they are hovering above where you normally place them (again with the goal of creating a vertical forearm). When you are ready, dig your toes into the ground and slap your hands on the floor, attempting to lift yourself in one straight line. As best you can, avoid lifting the chest before the abdomen. 2-5 sets of 3-5 reps should help you get better at this part of the push-up movement.

 


Super Slow Pushups (can be done on the floor, box, rig, or wall)

You’re goal here is to learn how to stabilize in each part of the push-up. When you go “super-slow” you are provided with instant feedback. Are your hips sagging? Are your elbows flaring? Are you hunching your shoulders rather than getting into a more hollow-looking top position? To do these push-ups, start off in plank position and slowly lower for a set amount of seconds. Pause at the bottom (if you want to pause for the same amount of seconds—even better), and then slowly rise for the same duration. Work your way up to 5 seconds. 1-3 sets of 3-5 reps at 2-5 seconds will start getting you stronger and ready to handle higher volumes.

Related:The Mindfulness of Movement

Once you get your first five push-ups, you can start being creative with your hand and feet positions. Heck you can even attempt plyometric push-ups where, for a second, neither your feet nor your hands are on the ground!

If you have any questions, or want to schedule a one-on-one personal training session to practice these skills, feel free to reach out to me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com or John at John@crossfitslipstream.com.

Until next time, keep push-upping on!

Jasmine Gerritsen

Trainer/Coach

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

Stop “Stretching”! Do Mobility Work Instead.

The words “flexibility” and “mobility” are generally used synonymously to mean the available range of motion at a given joint, or in a given movement pattern, such as a squat.  I will use “mobility” here to be consistent.  The term “stretching” has commonly been used to describe attempts to improve mobility.  This can mislead.  “Mobility work” offers more  specific techniques to help you increase range of motion in your joints.

Related: 4 Simple Shoulder Mobility Movements

“Stretching” as a term was popularized by the book of the same name by Bob Anderson published in 1980.  The 30th Anniversary Edition didn’t bother to define “stretching,” but states clearly the common misconception of “stretching”: that the benefit comes from stretching muscles (30th Ed. pg. 12.  2010).  Yes, muscles stretch when you ask them to.  However, stretching muscles will not result increased range of motion or do much to prevent injury.  We are complex systems of muscle, nerves, blood vessels, and many types of connective tissues, all of which are involved in setting your ranges of motion.

What increases range of motion and prevents injury is work that targets all of the elements of restriction at a given joint.  These are: joint capsules, fascia, connective tissue growth between layers, subconscious restriction, and (yes) muscle length.  “Mobility work” is a more comprehensive term for efforts to identify and target the relevant elements at a given joint or in a given movement pattern, like a squat.

“Mobility work” means “distracting,” or re-aligning, and assisting joints to loosen connective tissues that have become overly restrictive.  There is no muscle in the joint itself to “stretch,” so if you’re thinking about “stretching” you won’t address this factor that may be limiting your mobility.  Impact or overuse may cause a joint to become misaligned.  No amount of muscle stretching will re-align the joint properly.  You need to use rubber bands, positioning, traction, and other methods to create space in the joint to allow it to return to its proper location.

“Mobility work” is a more comprehensive term for efforts to identify and target the relevant elements at a given joint or in a given movement pattern, like a squat.

“Mobility work” also means working to restore the ability of layers of tissue to slide past one another.  We are made of multiple layers of tissues – muscle, blood vessels, nerves, and lots and lots of fascia and other protective and connective tissues.  These layers are supposed to slide across one another as our movement requires them to.  Once a layer pinches or binds another, it cannot move optimally, so the body starts looking for a work-around, known as “compensation.”  If you’ve ever worn clothing that pinched or bound when you tried to move a certain way, like pants when you attempt to squat, you’ve experienced an external version of this phenomenon.  Connective tissues will sometimes grow between the layers, often in response to an injury.  Other causes include poor hydration and lack of use. These keep the layers from sliding across one another, preventing them from moving the way they need to.

It is true that tight muscles can also limit range of motion.  However, rather than simply “stretch” them, which puts the muscle under more stress, use some simple techniques to get the muscle to relax.  Compression is widely recognized to cause the compressed muscle to relax.  I’m not talking about the kind of compression you get from Under Armour.  I’m talking about pressing your body weight onto a ball that is pressing on the tight muscle.  Or using a kettlebell to push on it.  Lots of pressure, plus actively contracting the muscle, then consciously trying to relax it, will create greater improvements in less time than stretching.

Another important piece of your available range of motion is the subconscious.  The subconscious mind receives information about where you’re moving and compares it to where you’ve been recently.  It does not allow you to move into ranges of motion you haven’t visited in a long time to protect you from injury.  This is a major factor limiting your range of motion, and requires you to gradually increase range of motion, rather than blasting into new levels.

Related: 4 Best Hip Openers to Improve Your Mobility

So the next time you think about “stretching,” consider really checking in with how you feel, what ranges of motion you intend to use, test to see how they are, and then do specific mobility work to address the actual issue(s) you identify.  You’ll get better results in less time, and have more body awareness to boot.

Contact me if you have any questions, or would like to learn more about how to improve your mobility!

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com

Sleep Part 3: Eating to sleep?

In my previous post I discussed the ways you can manipulate your workouts to maximize sleep. In this final post about sleep, I will give you some nutritional food-for-thought that may assist you in falling and (hopefully) staying asleep.


Caffeine

Caffeine can be quite the difficult subject to approach. Some of us can’t go without it, and some of us only use it when we are in desperate need of a pick-me-up. Good news is, if you understand how caffeine works and how you can manipulate your bodies’ tolerance to it, you can better plan when you consume it.

Image result for caffeine

A few things to know about caffeine:

“Caffeine’s half-life (the time it takes to clear from your system) can range from a few hours up to 6 hours. This half-life is influenced by your genetics and even prescribed medications you may be taking.”

  • People experience an adrenaline spike when they consume caffeine. Think of adrenaline as that feeling you get when you have a heavy barbell on your back at the bottom of a squat.

  •  Caffeine’s half-life (the time it takes to clear from your system) can range from a few hours up to 6 hours. This half-life is influenced by your genetics and even prescribed medications you may be taking.

  • Consider avoiding caffeine for at least four hours before bed, especially if you are unused to the affects of caffeine on your body. Again, this amount of time may change depending on your genetics and any medications you are taking.

  • To build a tolerance to the effects of caffeine, studies suggest you may need to dose with 200 mg or more a day. This tolerance shortens the half-life of caffeine, which lessens the length of time it is affecting your system. For reference, one 8 oz cup of coffee has around 95 mg. This caffeine should still be consumed earlier in the day to avoid impacting sleep.

  • Even if you have developed a tolerance to caffeine and are able to sleep after drinking it, be aware that caffeine will still block adenosine receptors, which are implicated in allowing you to achieve a good night’s sleep.


Food + Supplements

“Of course, it is always better to get these nutrients from real food rather than supplementation.”

While it’s pretty evident that eating copious amounts of food before bed can disrupt sleep, there are ways you can manipulate food or supplementation in order to help you sleep better.

  • Sources of Vitamin D (think sunlight) and omega-3 (think fish and oils) provide nutrients that involve regulating your body’s production of serotonin (sleep) hormone. Of course, it is always better to get these nutrients from real food rather than supplementation. I personally supplement with about 5,000 IU of Thorne’s Vitamin D-3 nearly every night and find that I sleep better and am better able to combat illness. On heavy workout days I also supplement with Nordic Natural’s fish oil, which helps battle inflammation and leaves me less sore and more refreshed the next morning.

Related:How to Choose Nutrition Supplements; Protein Shake Edition

  • Fruit might help you go to sleep! Studies show that eating a piece or two of fruit about an hour before bed may help you sleep due to the energy release from the fructose and the hunger-satiating effect of fiber and water.

Image result for fibrous fruits

  • Consuming Magnesium-rich foods like nuts and leafy vegetables may also aid in better sleep. Most people in the Western world are magnesium deficient, especially if their diet is comprised primarily of grains. When consumed or taken as a supplement, studies have shown increased sleep quality in people who report difficulty sleeping. I personally take about 250mg of Thorne’s magnesium citrate. As an athlete, I also find that I recover better the next morning.

While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, I wanted to give you some easy tips and tricks to help get a good night’s sleep. If you have any questions or suggestions of your own, feel free to reach out to me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com.

Until next time, sleep well!

Jasmine Gerritsen

Coach/Trainer

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

Energy Systems 2: Sugar vs. Fat and How to Know Which You’re Using

In Energy System Basics, we discussed the four (4) different ways (we know of) that the human body provides energy to working muscles.  Briefly, the Aerobic system burns either fat or sugar, the glycolytic energy system burns sugar and reprocesses the byproducts of doing that, and the phosphagenic system is there with ATP for use, and creatine phosphate to replenish it quickly.  Ok, neat, you say, but my goal is to burn off this spare tire, so…how do I know if I’m doing that?  That’s what we’re talking about here.

Related: Breathing: So Simple Anyone Can Do It

There are two things to look at to know which energy source you’re using: your level of exertion, and the hunger that drives your eating habits.

Your level of exertion is relatively simple.  Fat is a major source of fuel only at lower levels of physical activity.  So if you can’t speak a complete sentence while being active (whether it’s “exercise” or not), you’re burning at least some sugar, rather than fat.  This is why “fat burning” settings on exercise machines, or our Burn45 class, feel “easy” – the effort level is low to moderate to ensure your body uses fat, rather than sugar.  You should be at a 1, 2, or 3 of the rate of perceived exertion scale.

If you’re unable to speak complete sentences, or the effort is starting to feel “real” you’re beginning to burn more sugar than fat. Whether or not this is a problem depends of the goal of your workout.  If you’re intending to burn fat during the workout, you’re going too hard.  If you’re intending to get the most out of your workout, work hard, and achieve maximum improvement from that day’s effort, then you should go ahead an burn sugar.

If you’re unable to speak complete sentences, or the effort is starting to feel “real” you’re beginning to burn more sugar than fat.

The hunger that drives your eating habits is a less obvious clue, but once you start looking for the signs, it should be fairly clear whether you burn primarily sugar or fat throughout the day.  Do you get hungry every few hours?  Do you ‘graze’ or eat lots of small meals?  Do you frequently crave certain foods, especially those high in sugar?  If the answer to any of these is “yes” then you probably don’t burn much fat during the day.

Related: The Importance of Recovery

Not to worry though!  You can change this pattern by re-balancing your diet away from a constant stream of sugar towards a more balanced intake of fat, protein, and healthy carbohydrates.  Start by eating more healthy fat and protein at breakfast, eliminating sugary drinks, and avoiding snacking.  When you find yourself no longer having cravings, avoiding the post-lunch slump, and feeling great after light activity, you’ll know you’re on the path to burning fat.  And that’s what we are supposed to do!

If you have questions, or would like to know how you can use our workouts to enhance your fat-burning, contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com or 612-644-9781.

–John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com

MEMBER HIGHLIGHT – MEET JAKE!

Why did you decide to try Personal Training at CrossFit Slipstream?
I chose personal training at CrossFit Slipstream for a number or reasons. John is very experienced in CrossFit endurance/endurance races. We agreed that endurance athletes typically brush over the strenghth portion of training, but to be a well rounded athlete, no matter the sport, it’s important. I also had pre-existing injury and major mobility problems. John structures workouts and teaches me movements around that injury. Lastly, John is a Marine, something we both share, his dedication to duty, without question, has seeped into his work life (CrossFit Slipstream). His knowledge base on all of this, I feel is a result of that, it was the icing on the cake.

How is having a Personal Trainer changed your workout or fitness results?
Personal Training has accelerated my fitness goals exponentially. The structure of the workout progresses to get harder each week but not in such a way where I get burned out. It’s like the saying “When you want something done right, hire a professional.” In the past I had problems making my own plan and not burning out, and difficulty tweaking it to suit my needs. One on one time with John is like taking a crash course in your personal movement. 

How has this training affected your health and/or life? 
For me endurance sports is a mental game, I feel better after and it forces the mind and body to accept uncomfortable circumstances. I think this is good for the mind. The physical benefits result in doing it. 

What is your favorite type of workout?
I like open water swimming and body weight wodsthat include kettle bells.

What would you say to somone who is thinking about Personal Training?
I would say, setting and achieving goals is done through planning. So if you have serious goalsyourtrying to attain or specific movements you want to do, try personal training. Having a professional helps you structure and keeps you accountable. Accountability is huge, that and you pay for it, so you better get the use out of it. 

Sleep Hacks Part 2: Strategizing Your Workouts For Better Sleep!

In my previous post I discuss the ways you can manipulate your environment for better sleep. In this post I will talk about ways you can structure your workout/physical activity throughout the day to maximize sleep.

“The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person.”

It’s commonly understood that most adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep per 24-hour cycle to properly function and recover from the stress of everyday life. There are of course exceptions to this rule. A small percentage of the population is born with a special genetic mutation that enables them to sleep and function perfectly with less than 5 hours of sleep. However, this genetic variant is rare, and if you find yourself groggy on less than 6 hours of sleep, you are probably not blessed with this gene. On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who require more hours of sleep (9-12 hours) especially if they are active. The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person.

Image result for sleep and exercise


You need to figure out how much sleep you typically need:

  •      When do you feel your best?

  •      When left to your own devices, when do you wake up?

  •      How many hours do you sleep when you don’t have to wake up to an alarm?

  •      What does your physical and cognitive performance look like on 6, 7, 8 or 9 hours of sleep?

Once you have an understanding of how much sleep your body likes, then you can manipulate your day to help you get the sleep you need.


TIME OF DAY TO EXERCISE TO MAXIMIZE SLEEP

“Studies have found that no matter when you exercise, if you exercise at least 30 minutes per day, your ability to fall asleep will improve.”

Studies have found that no matter when you exercise, if you exercise at least 30 minutes per day, your ability to fall asleep will improve. However, there are ways to optimize the bang-for-your-buck effect of exercise on sleep. Studies have found that exercising within 3 hours of bedtime might disrupt sleep, likely because of the body’s inability to lower it’s heart rate and body temperature. There is still a silver lining to late night exercise, as evidence suggests that late night exercisers are more alert the next morning and sleep well the next night. The bottom line: 30 minutes of exercise a day is better than not exercising in relation to sleep.


WHAT KIND OF WORKOUT SHOULD YOU DO FOR BETTER SLEEP?

There are opportunities throughout the day for you to take advantage of your body’s natural circadian rhythm and hormone production to promote better sleep.

In the morning, consider doing a light workout at around 65% effort. This light activity helps you better mobilize and deal with inflammation as well as avoids increasing naturally high cortisol (stress) levels in the morning. As a result, during your evening workout you would need less of a warm up and get a more productive workout. Even if you skip the morning movement, you can choose a type of workout in the evening that will help with sleep.

The chart below gives specific suggestions as to the types of workouts that have been shown to be most beneficial to sleep, depending on time of day.

Time of Day

Intensity/Duration

Suggested Type of Workout

Morning

65% effort, 20-60 min

Burn 45, Morning walk + stretching

Afternoon (2:00-6:00)

50-80% effort, 60-150 minutes

Burn 45, CF Lite, CF all levels

Evening (3-4 hours before bed)

85-90% effort, ~30 min

CF lite, CF All Levels

“even if you do an 85%+ effort workout in the morning, or 65% effort in the evening, as long as you accrue 30 minutes of exercise, you should see an increase in sleep quality.”

Remember these are only suggestions for the most optimal conditions. Even if you do an 85%+ effort workout in the morning, or 65% effort in the evening, if your workout lasts at least 30 minutes, you should see an increase in sleep quality. If you workout closer to bed time, you can employ other strategies such as relaxing breath work and lukewarm or cold showers–and still get the benefits of exercise.

RELATED:Breathing: So Simple Anyone Can Do It


WORKOUT TRICKS IF YOU ARE SLEEP DEPRIVED

If you know you are sleep deprived, you can still use exercise to 1) alleviate sleepiness and 2) ensure that you will have good sleep later on. Studies suggest that when sleep deprived you can reduce sleepiness by undergoing a long-duration, aerobic exercise. A Burn 45 class would be perfect, since you are kept in your aerobic MAF heart rate. Conversely, if you don’t have time to go “long and slow” you can attempt to do short bouts of exercise (~10) minutes, every 2 hours. This could look like a 10 min AMRAP of burpees, air squats, and pushups.

RELATED:Torch Fat and Feel Great with Burn45


TO SUM IT ALL UP

If you want to improve your sleep, you need to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. This can be a mixture of easy morning aerobic work, such as stretching or walking, followed by an evening WOD. To optimize your sleep, consider doing both a lighter morning workout, and a more intense evening workout 3-4 hours before bed. Top it all off with a lukewarm/cold shower and some meditation/breathwork and presto! Sleep!

Be on the lookout for Sleep Part 3, where I go into some tips for food, drink, and supplementation protocols to help you sleep better. If you have any questions feel free to email me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com. Until then, keep sleeping!

Jasmine Gerritsen

Instructor/Coach

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

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